Renowned UMass Amherst researchers honored by Institute of Food Technologists


Credit: UMass Amherst

University of Massachusetts Amherst Distinguished Professor David Julian McClements and Professor Hang Xiao, both among the most highly cited researchers in the world, have won awards for their contributions to food science from the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT).

McClements was chosen to receive the Nicolas Appert Award, named after the French inventor known as the “father of canning.” The award honors “preeminence in and contributions to the field of food technology,” and recognizes a lifetime of achievement. The award includes a $5,000 honorarium from IFT and a bronze medal.

Xiao, Clydesdale Scholar of Food Science, was tapped for the Babcock-Hart Award, named after groundbreaking agricultural chemists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The award is given for food technology contributions that improved public health through nutrition. Xiao will receive a $3,000 honorarium from the International Life Sciences Institute North America and a plaque from IFT.

Both UMass Amherst food scientists will be formally recognized at the IFT’s annual meeting in June in New Orleans.

The Appert Award is the latest of numerous honors and accolades for McClements, an internationally recognized expert in nanotechnology and structural design principles, such as encapsulation and delivery of bioactive compounds with health benefits, including omega-3 fatty acids, carotenoids, and vitamins.

His research focuses on understanding the physicochemical breakdown of foods within the gastrointestinal tract in an effort to design functional foods that improve human health through dietary interventions.

“I am really honored to receive this award from my peers in the food science community,” McClements says. “I have been extremely lucky to have wonderful colleagues, students and visiting scientists throughout my career at UMass, and to work in a department that fosters collaboration and innovation, which really helped me to establish a successful research program.”

Xiao’s research focuses on identifying dietary components, or nutraceuticals, that have the potential to prevent chronic diseases. He studies and describes their molecular mechanisms and uses nanotechnology and food processing to enhance their health benefits. His long-term goal is to develop diet-based strategies to prevent diseases and promote health.

Xiao recently received a $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study how gut bacteria help transform citrus fruit compounds into powerful anti-inflammatory agents in the body. He hopes the research leads to dietary recommendations to prevent or treat inflammation-related conditions in the colon, such as irritable bowel disease and colorectal cancer.

Xiao says “it’s a great honor” to receive the Babcock-Hart Award and recognition of his work from his peers, adding that he is very grateful for the support from his UMass Amherst food science colleagues that is critical to his research achievements.


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